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  1. #1
    Senior Member EZ-SportAX Curt's Avatar
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    Staying Clean When Touring

    How does everyone keep them selves clean between motel and B&B stops. I'm sure many days go by before bike tourers see a shower, so I was wondering how most people keep clean between bath stops. I was thinking maybe carrying baby wipes to keep the private parts clean, but then again a large box of baby wipes can weigh about 2 or 3 pounds.
    Curt

    Cycle Genius RDX Raven with Fairing and a EZ-Sport AX with Shimano 36H XTR hubs with DT-Swiss spokes, Fairing, Finders, Rear Rack, FSA 53/42/30 Crank. Action Bent Tadpole. Cannondale T2000 Touring Bike. Gary Fisher 293 29ER Mountain Bike. Gary Fisher Marlin 26ER Mountain Bike, and 1 Bob Yak.

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    Do you know how much your private parts weigh?!

    Leave THEM at home, I say.

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    Aging Gearhead
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    A year or two after my kids had graduated from diapers, I found a forgotten box of wipes in a closet that had dried out completely. When I tour or backpack, I slip a handfull of the dried (and now lightweight) wipes into my kit along with a ziplock for rewetting with a few drops of water. Interestingly, the residual A&D ointment I found with the box of wipes comes along, too. So I guess having babies is conducive to touring?

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    Some established campgrounds have showers, which is one of the (many) reasons I like staying in campgrounds. Other than that, a cup of warm water and a washcloth and one drop of Dr. Bronners soap, and you're good enough. Streams and lakes are nice, too (no soap in the water).

    Baby wipes are not very environmentally friendly, but they work pretty well. Buy the small travel-size package - like a 10-pack - and that's the end of that weight problem.
    ...

  5. #5
    Senior Member DuckFat's Avatar
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    Yep, small baby wipe packages, concentrated soap in a pan of warm water, and a few dunks in the river should do you pretty well.

  6. #6
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DuckFat View Post
    Yep, small baby wipe packages, concentrated soap in a pan of warm water, and a few dunks in the river should do you pretty well.
    Yep, that is pretty much what we do too, but we don't worry too much about a little filth or stink either. If water is scarce, some times we are just pretty dirty for a few days. In those times a quick wipe with a baby wipe has to suffice.

    The packages of wipes that we used were about 1/2" thick, not sure how many they held, but we shared a pack between three of us so we used them sparingly.

  7. #7
    nun
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    Wearing wool T-shirts and socks keeps down the smell, you can wear them for a few days without
    washing them and they don't smell like synthetics. I'll use some water on a cloth to wash with a couple
    of drops of shampoo. If I need to disinfect anything I use some of the alcohol from my stove. I use grain alcohol if I can get it as then I can use it as fuel, to wash and disinfect and also to make cocktails.

  8. #8
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nun View Post
    I use grain alcohol if I can get it as then I can use it as fuel, to wash and disinfect and also to make cocktails.
    nun, I like your thinking. Pass the olives.
    None.

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    Amongst many other uses, a collapsible bucket is a great help to getting a good wash when you are wild camping.

  10. #10
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by EZ-SportAX Curt View Post
    How does everyone keep them selves clean between motel and B&B stops. I'm sure many days go by before bike tourers see a shower, so I was wondering how most people keep clean between bath stops. I was thinking maybe carrying baby wipes to keep the private parts clean, but then again a large box of baby wipes can weigh about 2 or 3 pounds.
    One of the best things I have found is microfiber towels. They work better than baby wipes, which I have also tried, and they more effective and thorough, and faster.

    Some of them are very light and unusually absorbent (they will hold many times their weight in water), and they are also unusually quick to absorb. They come in a variety of textures -- some are better than others, and different individuals have different preferences.

    If you have more than one of them -- not just little squares, but at least one or two that are larger (maybe face-towel size) -- you can develop a system that allows you to sponge down your entire body with a little lather (more than a drop or two of soap is often better), and allows you do it swiftly; then rinse/remove with both sides of a clean and wet towel (and/or rinse off using a water bottle -- bicycle water bottles are great for this), and dry very quickly with another clean towel (size matters less for this stage, but it can be nice to have also). A towel that allows you to do your back quickly and well is good to have. You can cover a lot of ground very satisfyingly, quickly and thoroughly. If you organize it, it's possible to get the whole process down pat, and do it very efficiently.

    Everything can fit inside a waist pack.

    You might try various types of soaps. Some are better for this than others. Bronner's Peppermint is pretty good; there are others that are as good or better.

    The towels can be rinsed out and dried easily. They are light, and they don't retain as much water and weight (after wringing or squeezing the water out) as most fabrics do; and they dry much faster.

    *******
    Another thing about these microfiber towels: some of them are designed to pick up small particles of dirt very efficiently. The design and the small fibers seem to do an especially good job at cleaning all kinds of things. Some of them work surprisingly well, especially when used with plenty of water.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 02-08-08 at 04:18 PM.

  11. #11
    eternalvoyage
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    If you try this technique with some sopping wet towels, it can be surprisingly efficient and effective.

    It works so pleasantly and effectively that I don't even miss the shower rooms. In fact, I'm very glad to be free of the standard showers. This works just fine, and it can even be enjoyable. Organizing it well, and making it work well and efficiently has been great.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 02-07-08 at 02:27 PM.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I don't worry too much about it. After about 5 days or so, I start to think that a shower might be nice, but prior to that point, it's not a big deal.

    If I can get to a convenience store (or restaurant, or grocery store, or whatever) washroom, I'll have a "bath" in the sink using water and paper towels, and possibly the soap in the dispensers.

    A lake, ocean, or stream is also useful ... I'll wade in (cycling clothes and all) and splash around for a while (no soap, of course). Sometimes, especially at ocean beaches, they have showers for people to wash off the sand, so I'll have a quick shower there (and I might use soap there).

    As for cleaning things like dishes when water is scarce, I have scrubbed them out with sand and then given them a quick rinse whenever I got to a water source.

  13. #13
    eternalvoyage
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    I've used quite a few of those beach showers too. Someone always seems to be around or to come around, to watch or shower next to you. This is occasionally all right, but often somewhat awkward. I'm glad to be set up to be able to do it independently of any facilities.

    Jumping in (clean) rivers has been great -- very cooling and quick and refreshing, and often good for a bit of a swim at the same time.

    *******
    [It is worth being aware that some rivers (and reservoirs and other bodies of water) have a lot of sewage or sewage treatment plant effluents dumped into them. Sometimes it is (relatively) 'clean,' but it varies quite a bit. If you look at how many tons are dumped into some of them every day, and what scientists have found in the water, it is sometimes better to use cleaner waters for bathing.]
    Last edited by Niles H.; 02-07-08 at 05:06 PM.

  14. #14
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    On the same subject I just bought one of those portable showers you hang in the sun to warm it up has anyone used one of these? I thought if I didn't use it for a shower I could always use it to carry water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bushard View Post
    On the same subject I just bought one of those portable showers you hang in the sun to warm it up has anyone used one of these? I thought if I didn't use it for a shower I could always use it to carry water.
    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I have used those car-camping, and they are barely acceptable. Needs a good long time in strong sun to make the water warm. And it's not drinkable, at least the one I had - it's not meant for drinking water, the the plastic taste gets into the water, and I don't even know if it's safe. It makes the water stink a bit for washing, let alone drinking. Maybe yours is a different brand or newer material, and is nicer.

    I think it's way more weight than it's worth for a bike trip. Pretty much, if it's sunny enough outside to warm the water up, you can easily take a cold sponge bath or wash off in a lake or stream.
    ...

  16. #16
    Slowpoach
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    Quote Originally Posted by EZ-SportAX Curt View Post
    I was thinking maybe carrying baby wipes to keep the private parts clean, but then again a large box of baby wipes can weigh about 2 or 3 pounds.
    Baby wipes usually come in packs of 80 (big boxes usually have multiple 80-packs inside) but you can also get travel packs of 40-50 and sample/travel packs of 8-15. Also you can get moist towelettes in smaller packs but having recently discovered "real" baby wipes, I say accept no substitute - they are thick enough to actually have a decent all-over clean with 3 or so. I take 2 small packs and some antibacterial hand wipe. I usually go through one packet in a week.

    I haven't gone on any remote or long tours, and I've always been able to use showers at sports fields (every country town in Victoria seems to have a footy oval with showers in the clubroom) or sometimes campgrounds/caravan parks. On bushwalks I never worried about it, but that was years ago when water still existed and we'd have a swim in a river every day or two.

    Around here water can be a problem and it is considered polite to ask, and to keep showers brief.

  17. #17
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    I used the solar shower when camping while fruit picking. It served my purpose, but it does need plenty of exposure to sunshine prior to using. You just can't plonk it down on the ground after filling it with water, set up your camp, and expect it to be suitably warm when you want to wash. I left mine out all day in the sun while at work. And they cool down pretty rapidly when the sun disappears. You also have to be turning the hose on and off to conserve water while you lather. Plus, lifting 25kg of water up high enough is an interesting challenge -- it appears simple in theory, but you have to find the place to hang it first -- and there are due considerations for others who may be forced to watch you do your ablutions.

    I agree with Cave on the baby wipes, but would also suggest that you can transfer the number you think you might need to a Ziploc bag. I do this when on shorter tours and randonneuring, and keep a stash in my handlebar bag for wiping off grease after a mechanical, and another in my pannier for "washing" body parts.

    I concentrate on a clean-up of the groin, the butt, the pits, and with a fresh wipe, the face and neck especially if I have been using sunscreen.

    You might also consider swimming pools, which can be handy for a pre-dip shower, a swim, and a shower afterwards. I think most pools now insist on people showering first to avoid a build-up of oily grime and other unwanted elements in the pool water.

    I don't know how you all go in the US, but consider 24-hour truck stops. And I can't remember if the public loos on the interstate highways we travelled in the US had showers or not -- but a definite thumbs up to the incredible standard of those facilities which I think have been consistently the best designed and functioning and the cleanest I have seen on my travels.

    Oh yeah, and in Australia, some towns are amazingly co-operative enough to provide free public showers in their toilet blocks. The ones I know about are segregated from the toilet facilities, and there may only be one. It's a good idea to take along flip-flops at least, and if you are really hygeine-conscious, a small bottle of bleach to squirt around the shower bay.
    Last edited by Rowan; 02-08-08 at 12:21 AM.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I don't worry too much about it. After about 5 days or so, I start to think that a shower might be nice, but prior to that point, it's not a big deal.

    If I can get to a convenience store (or restaurant, or grocery store, or whatever) washroom, I'll have a "bath" in the sink using water and paper towels, and possibly the soap in the dispensers.

    A lake, ocean, or stream is also useful ... I'll wade in (cycling clothes and all) and splash around for a while (no soap, of course). Sometimes, especially at ocean beaches, they have showers for people to wash off the sand, so I'll have a quick shower there (and I might use soap there).

    As for cleaning things like dishes when water is scarce, I have scrubbed them out with sand and then given them a quick rinse whenever I got to a water source.
    You are hardcore! I love it! Hey, we are riding bikes. We're supposed to sweat and stink! I have time for showers when I get back to my 9-5 life. I agree with you on lakes, oceans, or streams... but if possible... I 'm not going in with my cycling clothes on. I'll rinse them out for sure, but I'd rather take my bath and do my wash seperately, just so that I enjoy the bath more.

    As far as water being scarce, those aren't really the places that I think I would enjoy touring.

  19. #19
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Some established campgrounds have showers, which is one of the (many) reasons I like staying in campgrounds. Other than that, a cup of warm water and a washcloth and one drop of Dr. Bronners soap, and you're good enough. Streams and lakes are nice, too (no soap in the water).

    Baby wipes are not very environmentally friendly, but they work pretty well. Buy the small travel-size package - like a 10-pack - and that's the end of that weight problem.
    I agree on staying in campgrounds with showers if possible. My daughter turned me on to foaming cleansing cloths on our 2005 trip. Beats the heck out of bar soap and they really cut the grease and grime from riding all day. Safeway here in Denver carries a house brand but there are others. Here's one from Oil of Olay, for example. They even work in cold water...damned cold water...shrinkage cold water

    They weigh a lot less then pre-moistened ones.
    Stuart Black
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  20. #20
    Stand For Something mntbikedude's Avatar
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    I hate the wipies solution, just don't feel clean. I will take a water bottle out in the woods and use some camp soap and that works for me.

  21. #21
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mntbikedude View Post
    I hate the wipies solution, just don't feel clean. I will take a water bottle out in the woods and use some camp soap and that works for me.
    Try the cleansing cloths. Better than wipes and they come with their own wash cloth.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  22. #22
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by mntbikedude View Post
    I hate the wipies solution, just don't feel clean. I will take a water bottle out in the woods and use some camp soap and that works for me.
    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Try the cleansing cloths. Better than wipes and they come with their own wash cloth.
    If you were cleaning a dirty surface -- something with a layer of oil and some dust and grime, and plenty of bacteria (which are always present on the skin but are especially numerous in the cycling situations being addressed here), along with a variety of compounds secreted by both the sweat glands and all the billions of microorganisms -- if you had all that on some other surface, say on the hood (/bonnet) of a car, or on the body of a horse after a day of hard riding, sweat and dust, wouldn't these wipes just sort of smear everything around? They would remove some portion of these things, but also leave a lot remaining behind.

    The fragrances or perfumes may give some impression of freshness, but....

    Would they really do a good job of true removal and cleansing?

    *******
    I've always felt that they are something of a half measure. Maybe some are better than others, and there may be a range of effectiveness, but they all seem to fall short of what is accomplished by a good, thorough lather and rinse.

    I've lived around horses, and they are lathered up and rinsed off (at least that's what I've seen), and they come out shining.

    If wipes were used, wouldn't hair remain to some degree oily or greasy?, and wouldn't some of the the road grime, grit, dust, etc. remain, to a large extent, on various parts of the body?

    A water bottle and a shampoo would do a much better job (it seems at least), and the end result would be that good, squeaking fresh, dirt- and oil-free state.

    Various other parts of the body and skin would also be cleaner, it seems to me, with some of the other approaches.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 02-08-08 at 05:55 PM.

  23. #23
    Fred E Fenders fthomas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by awc380 View Post
    Do you know how much your private parts weigh?!

    Leave THEM at home, I say.




    How about forget keeping clean and try a new product that I have:

    Bicycle Padded Depends
    You Don't Even Have to Stop for that
    "I gotta go feeling"
    F Thomas

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  24. #24
    Fred E Fenders fthomas's Avatar
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    Have any of you ever heard of Dr. Bonner's Castile Soap? You can get it scented with Tea Tree or other things, but just the regular soap itself cleans great with little water and rinses easily - again with little water. The castile soap combined with new micro fiber towels is great. You can take a sponge bath with that combo just about anywhere.
    F Thomas

    "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
    Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

  25. #25
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by fthomas View Post
    Have any of you ever heard of Dr. Bonner's Castile Soap? You can get it scented with Tea Tree or other things, but just the regular soap itself cleans great with little water and rinses easily - again with little water. The castile soap combined with new micro fiber towels is great. You can take a sponge bath with that combo just about anywhere.
    Yes, I've used it. Good stuff.

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